Walter Dean Froelich, 95, passed away peacefully on January 25, 2024 at Vancrest Assisted Living in Van Wert, Ohio. He was born on November 28, 1928 in Twinsburg, Ohio to the late Marjorie and Walter Froelich.
As a youngster, Dean grew up in Twinsburg before the family moved to North Riverside, Illinois where he later graduated from Riverside-Brookfield High School as an accomplished student and three sport athlete in football, basketball and track. He then attended Northern Illinois University and played basketball there for two years before being drafted into the Army. While a student in Dekalb, he met the love of his life, Ellen Oderkirk, and they were married in September of 1950 and were married for 71 years before her passing. Dean was drafted and became an Army Sergeant 1st Class and served in Korea from 1950-1952 as a tank commander in the 40th Infantry Fifth Army area.
Upon discharge from the Army, he returned to Dekalb and began his 36 year career with DeKalb Agriculture. He worked in both the poultry and seed corn divisions of the company as a District Manager in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. One proud highlight of his career was being named the National Manager of Year in 1981. After retiring, he began volunteering at the Cincinnati Zoo in which he did school outreach programs, zoo grounds and tours, and zoo learning stations for 30 years. His love of zoos started as a high school job at the Brookfield Zoo and eventually led them to visit over 50 zoos in the United State as well as those in Italy, Germany, New Zealand and Australia. He was a lifelong learner and was proud of his extensive travel adventures that included visiting all 50 states as well as 17 foreign countries. In addition, he and Ellen were very active in a variety of other volunteer activities in and around the Lebanon, Ohio area. He was dedicated to lending his time and talents to many charitable organizations in his mission to help others including his active membership at the Lebanon United Methodist Church.
Dean is survived by sons Keith (JoAnne) Froelich from Petosky, Michigan, David (Rhonda) Froelich from Columbus, Ohio, daughter-in-law Jackie Froelich from Ankeny, Iowa, grandchildren Mariel (Kyle) Sellner, Marla (Amy) Froelich, Kyle Froelich, Kulin (Ashley) Froelich, Sarah (Scott) White, Melissa (TJ) Imm and Kayla (Harrison) Kim as well as great grandchildren Cody, Mason, Max, Frankie Jo, Jayden, Landon, Keegan, Gavin, Elise and Avery.
Dean is preceded in death by his parents, his sister Audrey, his wife Ellen and his beloved oldest son, Kevin.
A private family service will be held at a later date and his final resting place will be in DeKalb, Illinois with Ellen. In lieu of flowers or gifts, the family requests that memorial donations be made to the Cincinnati Zoo or a zoo of your choice in his name. Our family would like to extend a special thank you for the compassionate care and genuine love provided by the staff at Vancrest of Van Wert Assisted Living.